So little while back I posted what is below here. And while yes Nicholas, there is small dink in it due to transport, I was hoping for something a little more….deep;)
You see, while i was in Birmingham over the holidays, Laura and I decided to take a trip over to a mall before going to meet up with Nick and Leslie. It is one of the things we do for fun. To watch people and to get a sense of the contrast in life compared to Geneva. One of the things which I have been looking for a long time was an icon that I could sense needed a home. And while i never expected to find one in Alabama, the stars were aligned a more differently.
As we were walking through this mall in Birmingham Alabama (of all places), there was this guy selling religious iconography. He was also selling little nativity figurines and crucifixes. But the icons you could see he only had a few of, and they were very well done.
As we stopped and started looking, the man came over to me and started talking. It was at this point i noticed, though he had not yet, that he was probably not the only one not from around there. As we continued to talk, I asked where he had gotten them, and he gave me story about how they came from..duhda dua dhau.!!!!!…the “Holy Land” aka, the place where many American Christians will pay extra to get their stuff from!!!. No really I thought, where did they come from?
The man then proceeded to tell me that he did not know much about them; however, he being a Palestinian (he said with hush expecting me as a white guy, looking at Christian religious stuff from Alabama to freak out), had an orthodox Christian friend who painted them by hand as his trade. And, he had asked him to bring them along and sell them.
I then told him a bit of my story about living in Geneva, about the icon store we have here..and more. By the end of it, he was wanting to bargain with me about the price, and we found ourselves laughing because it felt like all of sudden we were in a different place and time..where bargaining was ok between friends. It was almost as if we were not longer in a mall in America.
I share the story because I have been doing reflective/meditative prayer in the mornings now for a few months. The addition of this icon to my times has been rich. But one of the things I have noticed, is that not a single character on the thing looks at the person looking at the icon. No, not even Jesus who finds himself in the center, really looks at you.
This was a crazy realization for me. Why? Because I guess we all figure that when we pray, somehow God is looking right at us. That somehow, like a good conversation with a good friend, the person makes perfect eye contact. That in prayer, this is what God does too. That when we sit and start sharing our burdens or our desires or our worries with God, God is looking at us..at me. But what if God is not?
What if, like this icon, all the saints in the heavenlies are looking at Christ, and Christ is somehow calling us to join in with them. To join with them in prayer, even if, we do not feel looked at? That somehow in our prayers when we don’t feel like God is hearing us, or listening to us, that maybe its because our prayers have become so much about us, and so little about Jesus. Not that God doesn’t want to to hear our prayers!!! Oh no! But more than that, God wants us to take us from a place petitioning God, to being in the company of God. And that this, is prayer.
I don’t know, maybe its just me. But this morning I really had the sense that i needed to be reminded of how to pray without being the center of the prayers. That really, it is not all about me or you or anyone. But that prayer is inevitably about Jesus.
Jeez, does that sound simplistic to anyone else? Or is it something else? Am I missing something?
grace and peace for the day. you are in good company. and yes, God is there…
The Root and Offspring of Jesse
THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots… And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1-10)
THE RABBINIC WRITINGS
And there shall go forth a King from the Sons of Jesse, and the MESSIAH shall be anointed from his children’s children. (Targum Jonathan)
THE NEW TESTAMENT
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Saviour — Jesus. (Acts 13:22-23)
I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)
Think on this image and text. What do you see?